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In the weeks before his first comeback fight in March 2011 against Pawel Wolak, Foreman had been forcing himself to train. He had come back too soon from major reconstructive knee surgery. His beloved manager and the sandak (the person who holds the baby during the circumcision) of his son’s circumcision, Murray Wilson, had recently passed away unexpectedly. Coupled with a decision to split from his beloved trainer of 6 years Joe Grier, Foreman found himself grasping for motivation.
“I stopped dreaming of boxing. I was like a robot.” Foreman said. “I just tried to tell myself that I would get through this because I am professional.” Yet boxing is very much a mental game. The Wolak fight ended in between the 6th and 7th round with Foreman sitting in his corner unable to continue, suffering from mental fatigue.
“It was all bad. I didn’t even move. I just moved a little bit in one direction - the direction where my good leg was. After the fight I wanted to forget about this as quick as I could. Get back home from Las Vegas and completely forget about boxing.”
Foreman took a break from serious training. He continued working out simply to stay in shape. Not yet ready to retire, but knowing that he needed time off, he recuperated while searching for an answer on his future. Judaism and his rabbinical studies filled the void. “It helped me stay focused while I was away from boxing and be concentrated on my goals and priorities.” Foreman said.
Gradually his desire to fight returned and once again he found himself dreaming about boxing.
“Since I was 7, I knew I wanted to be World Champion.” Foreman said.
He reconnected with Grier and strength and conditioning coach Mark Puttenvink, and began a more rigorous training program. For the last six months he has followed a strict routine. Three days a week after dropping off his son at daycare, he rides a series of subways and the NJ Transit to Paterson, NJ, where he meets with Grier and Puttenvink, preparing for his next fight.
To watch Foreman training these days is to see a man at ease with himself. When the time comes for him to spar, Foreman bounds off boyishly into the locker room. He re-emerges with carefully cut tape that seems to have been saved for weeks for Grier to use in wrapping Foreman’s gloves.
“You can’t put brand new (stuff) on him,” Grier says, “its illegal.”
Foreman just smiles and shakes his head. He has returned.